Just as the hearing for the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction got underway on Tuesday, police officers entered the court and arrested Javier Quintero—one of the 40 alleged Norteño gang members named in the injunction—for a parole violation. Quintero was the first defendant to testify in the hearing, which began in mid-February, and has not missed a single day of watching the proceedings.
Defense attorneys had put Quintero on the stand early in the hearing process, along with another alleged gang member, Abel Manzo, because they believe the Oakland City Attorney’s office has the weakest case against these two men. Throughout the course of the hearing, the defense has tried to show that Quintero and Manzo are not active gang members and only have non-violent criminal records. The prosecution has argued that although they’re not explicitly involved in violent crimes, both men have strong ties to the Norteño gang and are active members.
Shortly after testimony began on Tuesday, parole agents entered the courtroom, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman called a recess and within moments Quintero was handcuffed and escorted out.
Defense attorney Yolanda Huang told the judge that the defense was extremely dismayed by the arrest of Quintero during courtroom proceedings. “This drama of coming to court and having him hauled out of court in handcuffs,” shows continued harassment and intimidation against the alleged gang members, she said to the judge angrily, calling it “a public spectacle made of my clients.” Huang also told the judge she believed the prosecution knew about the arrest ahead of time.
Prosecuting attorney Tricia Hynes from the Meyers Nave law firm, which is representing the Oakland City Attorney’s office, told the judge her firm had no knowledge of the arrest beforehand. “We learned Mr. Quintero was going to be arrested as we walked into court this afternoon,” she said. Hynes then said she wished the defense attorneys had asked them first about the prosecution’s involvement “before our characters are smeared through the mud.”
Outside the courtroom, Alex Katz, spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, said that his office knew nothing about the arrest and that it was a matter involving the parole department, not the City Attorney’s Office.
The details of Quintero’s alleged parole violation were not given at the time of his arrest in the courtroom, but moments after Quintero’s arrest City Attorney John Russo sent out a message on Twitter reading: “Gang injunction ‘star’ defndnt found last nite in car w drugs & gang symbols. Last wk he testified under oath that he knew nothing re. Gangs.”
In an interview outside of court on Tuesday, Huang said she was unaware of Russo’s Twitter message but she believes Quintero was arrested due to an incident she witnessed on Friday, March 18. She said she was meeting Quintero and another alleged gang member to discuss their court cases and as she drove onto Quintero’s block she saw him handcuffed next to a car with its doors open and trunk popped. “What the officers told me when they detained Javier was the music was too loud,” she said.
According to Huang, the officers searched the car, which did not belong to Quintero, and found a red rag and some gang-related graffiti on a stereo box. Then they did a parole search of Quintero’s home and found a red blanket on his bed, a red pen and red tape on his dresser. Red is a known Norteño gang color. “They can violate your parole if you have shoes with red lining,” Huang said. “How many colors will be left? Soon we’ll all be wearing see-through plastic.”
Huang said that the Oakland Police Department should have notified her and the other defense attorneys that they were planning to carry out the arrest during the court hearing. She said that Quintero is not difficult to locate she said because he wears a GPS monitor on his ankle. “The police chose not to effect an arrest from Friday to today,” Huang said. “It’s to make the grandstanding statement that these are criminals.”
Before the interruption for Quintero’s arrest, Tuesday’s hearing had started with the prosecution questioning one of Quintero and Manzo’s probation officers, Dalen Randa. Officer Randa’s testimony was not completed by the end of the day and will be continued during the second week of April. The prosecution will be calling two more witnesses to testify in this preliminary hearing for the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction on Monday, April 4 at 9:30 am at the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland.